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AMEX REWARDS EXPANDS

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American Express added 23 new retailers yesterday to its Membership Rewards program. More than three million AmEx cardmembers are enrolled in the program which awards one point for each dollar charged. Among new participating retailers are The Sharper Image, OfficeMax, Godiva Chocolatier, Omaha Steaks and Time Life Books. Totally AmEx has 56 partners including twelve airlines, six hotels and three car rental agencies. Most enrolles pay a $25 annual fee to participate.

FULL STORY:
American Express has just added 23 shopping, sports and entertainment retailers to its Membership Rewards(SM) program, which boasts over three million customers nationwide. How it works: Membership Rewards enrollees earn one point for every dollar spent on enrolled American Express(R) Cards and Optima(R) Cards, which may be redeemed for free travel, retail merchandise, sports paraphernalia and gourmet foods. Membership Rewards points have no expiration date.

“All types of consumers are looking for smart ways to splurge on themselves, so we added partners that cater to a variety of lifestyles,” said Peggy Maher, American Express’ Vice President of Membership Rewards. “In addition to air travel, hotel stays and car-rentals, rewards range from practical items like CDs, computer software and luggage, to luxury goods such as custom-blended fragrances, shopping sprees and golf clubs.”

According to a recent survey, more than 54% of consumers who used credit cards for gift-purchasing during the holidays said they would use a card that offers rewards. “If consumers play their cards right, they can use rewards programs to really stretch their budgets,” Maher said, noting that American Express offers tips on How To Choose And Use A Rewards Program (see below).

The new Membership Rewards partners are: Linens ‘n Things, J. Crew, Montblanc, J&R Music/Computer World, El Portal, MCA Music Entertainment Group, Warner Brothers Jazz, The Sharper Image, American Express Financial Advisors, The Learning Company, Creative Multimedia, OfficeMax, Warner Books, Steiner Sports Marketing, Inc., 1-800-PRO-TEAM, Golf Day, MDI Entertainment, Golf Academy of Hilton Head Island at Sea Pines, Outdoor World Incentives, Godiva Chocolatier, Sterling Vineyards, Omaha Steaks, Time Life Books.

Membership Rewards offers a wide variety of rewards from a total of 56 partners, including 12 airlines, six hotels and three car rental companies. “The readers of Inside Flyer have just voted Membership Rewards as the best travel affinity card for the fifth year in a row,” Maher said.

American Express Membership Rewards Partners (complete list)

Airlines Delta Air Lines, USAir, Continental, Southwest Airlines,
Hawaiian Airlines, Swissair, Austrian Airlines, Sabena, EL AL
Israel Airlines, Korean Air, Aeromexico, Mexicana

Lodging Marriott, ITT Sheraton, Hilton, Best Western, Westin,
Renaissance

Car Rental Hertz, Budget Rent a Car, National Car Rental

Retail Saks Fifth Avenue, Linens ‘n Things, J. Crew, Montblanc, J&R
Music/Computer World, Tourneau, Caswell-Massey, Filene’s
Basement, 1-800-SEND-FTD, El Portal, Fortunoff, Tower
Records, MCA Music Entertainment Group, Warner Brothers Jazz,
The Sharper Image, American Express Financial Advisors, The
Learning Company, Creative Multimedia, OfficeMax, Time Life
Books

Sports Steiner Sports Marketing, Inc., 1-800-PRO-TEAM, Golf Day, MDI
Entertainment, Golf Academy of Hilton Head Island at Sea
Pines, Outdoor World Incentives

Gourmet Godiva Chocolatier, Windsor Vineyards, Clambake Celebrations,
Hale Indian River Groves, Pfaelzer Brothers, Sterling
Vineyards, Omaha Steaks, Magic Seasonings Mail Order, Time
Life Books
American Express Cardmembers can combine spending by enrolling all their eligible cards in Membership Rewards, plus up to two Additional Cards on each personal account, at no extra charge.* The Membership Rewards program annual fee is $25, there is no fee for Rewards Plus Gold Card and Platinum Card(R) members.
To enroll in Membership Rewards, cardmembers may call 1-800-AXP-EARN (297-3276). To apply for an American Express Card, call 1-800-THE-CARD (843-2273).

* Some Corporate Cards and some Optima Cards are not eligible for enrollment.

How To Choose And Use Rewards Programs

Card rewards programs are becoming more and more popular — there are frequent flyer cards, gas cards, grocery cards, phone cards, sports cards and even car cards — but it’s important to know how to determine which program is right for you. American Express offers the following tips on how to make the most out of a card rewards program:

1. Lay all your cards on the table. Consider all of the card features to determine which one best meets your needs: benefits & services, interest rate, annual fee and rewards.

2. Decide how you will use your points. If you tend to pile them up over time for that one big vacation or shopping spree, make sure the points won’t expire and don’t have a redemption cap, if you like to redeem fast and frequently, look for a program that offers rewards for a low number of points, such as videos, CDs, or gift certificates.

3. Variety or Simplicity? Determine whether you want to focus your reward earnings on a particular passion, such as frequent flyer miles, gasoline discounts or sports team memorabilia, or whether you want a program that offers a variety of choices, from travel to gourmet food to shopping sprees.

4. Consolidate! By putting all your spending on one or two cards, the points will add up quickly. (And, you can use your credit or charge card statement to closely manage your budget.)

5. Always make a point. Because credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere, it’s easy to earn points for routine purchases at grocery stores, dry cleaners, and even gas stations. But remember, while it’s a good idea to get points for your spending, don’t spend more just to get points.

Call your credit card company to find out if the card you are now using offers rewards. To find out about American Express rewards programs, call 1-800-AXP-EARN (297-3276).

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